Explosions were reported overnight near military bases deep within Russian-held areas of Ukraine and inside Russia’s territory itself, as Ukrainian forces appear to be demonstrating their ability to wreak havoc on Moscow’s logistics far from front lines.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said in televised remarks on Friday that statements from Ukrainian officials about striking facilities in Russian-occupied Crimea mark “an escalation of the conflict openly encouraged by the United States and its NATO allies”.
“Deep and open US involvement” in the war in Ukraine “effectively puts the US on the brink of becoming a party to the conflict,” Ryabkov said.
“We don’t want an escalation, we would like to avoid a situation where the US becomes a party to the conflict, but so far we haven’t seen their readiness to deeply and seriously consider those warnings,” he said.
In Crimea – the peninsula Russia seized and annexed in 2014 – explosions were reported overnight near an air base in Belbek, on the southwest coast near Sevastopol, headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
On the opposite end of the peninsula, the sky was also lit up at Kerch near a huge bridge to Russia, with what Russia said was fire from its air own defenses.
Within Russia, two villages were evacuated after explosions at an ammunition dump in Belgorod province, near the Ukrainian border but more than 100 km (60 miles) from territory controlled by Ukrainian forces.
Residents were evacuated after a fire at a munitions depot near the village of Timonovo, the Belgorod region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on Friday.
Roughly 1,100 people live in the villages of Timonovo and Soloti, but there were no casualties in the blaze that broke out late on Thursday night, the governor said.